As parents, navigating the daily gauntlet of raising a young family comes with many hurdles. Just knowing if you have chosen the right path for your family is challenging enough. This can include everything from choosing a suitable daycare centre, to sneaking those vegetables into meals, from toilet training tricks to squeezing in swimming lessons – the list goes on. And this is only made more challenging if you find yourself reflecting at the end of a long day, and notice that your toddler is not yet talking. Maybe they are producing less words compared to other children, or you have observed that your older child at the same age was easier to understand. Perhaps rather than communicating with words, your toddler prefers to point to what they want or lead you to what they need. If this is the case, there are things you can do at home to help your toddler talk, and they don’t have to put a strain on your already overloaded routine.
In this blog I will look at a few key milestones so you can firstly understand if your toddler really is experiencing a challenge, and will offer some simple ideas to get those words flowing and help your toddler talk in every day situations.
When Should Your Toddler Start Talking?
Understanding where your child is up to is one of our biggest challenges as parents. We often compare our child’s abilities and growth to others, and can find ourselves questioning how they are developing. As a speech pathologist who works closely with young families, I am often faced with the topic: ‘My toddler isn’t talking yet’. Parents will often ask if their child is just a ‘late-talker’, or if there is more that they should be worried about.
As a general guideline, by your child’s second birthday, they should say around 50 words. By the time they turn three years old, they should say around 200 words. You should also be able to understand what your child says around 75% of the time.
CLICK HERE to access our full Speech Sound Milestones guide, and learn more about speech and language milestones for your child.
How to Help Your Toddler Talk
Whether your child’s speech and language skills are developing appropriately for their age, or whether they require further support, there are some simple ways that you can encourage and support your child’s language skills when you are playing or simply hanging out together.
Talk About What YOU Are Doing
When you are playing with your child or when you are completing an activity your child, simply say what you are doing, e.g. ‘Time to fold the socks,’ or ‘I am building a block tower’.
Talk About What YOUR CHILD is Doing
This can be done when you’re playing with your child too! When playing cars, for example, watch what your child does and then comment; ‘Your car crashed’.
Repeat What Your Child Says
Repeating what your child says helps to reinforce their language. If your child says ‘Car’, you might simply say ‘Yes! The car!’
Expand What Your Child Says
A step up from simply repeating your child’s words, expanding their utterance is a great way to introduce more words to your child’s vocabulary. If your child says ‘car’ you might add to it by saying ‘Yes, a BLUE car!’
Take Your Child’s Meaning Further
You can also interpret what your child says and show them where their sentence can go. If your child says ‘dog eat’ you might say ‘Yes, the dog is eating. He is hungry’.
Keep Toddler Talk Strategies Simple
The above strategies are simple and can be easily worked into your daily routine as ways to support and add new words to help your toddler talk. And if you would like to stick with a simple approach, try picking one of the above strategies and run with it for a while rather than trying to fit in all the strategies at once. Remember, it is all about talking with your child. The more you use words in daily situations, the more words they will pick up and be eager to repeat.
And finally, remember to keep it FUN! Play is a child’s most successful way to learn, so splash in those muddy puddles with your child, go for a nature walk, finger paint and head to the park. You may be surprised at the language that emerges! But don’t forget that we are here to help. If you have concerns, early intervention is the best approach. We will help you navigate all parts of your child’s speech pathology journey.